Sir Stafford CRIPPS (1889–1952)
Statesman and benefactor
the Village Centre, Filkins
Richard Stafford Cripps was the youngest of five children of Charles Alfred Cripps, a Conservative M.P. who later in life, as Lord Parmoor, joined the Labour Party. Stafford attended Winchester and after first gaining a brilliant chemistry degree at University College, London, left science for law and was called to the Bar. In 1911 he married Isobel Swithinbank who was an unfailing support to him in public life and during the many periods of ill health which dogged him.
In 1930 he was made Solicitor General, received the statutory knighthood and entered parliament for Bristol East. He was a doctrinaire socialist (his strong Christian faith stood in the way of complete espousal of Marxist views) and found himself at odds with the Labour Party. When in 1938 he advocated a Popular Front with the Communist Party and politicians of all complexions to oppose appeasement, he was expelled from the Labour Party.
With the advent of war in 1939, he gave up his lucrative professional income as a barrister to serve the national interest. As ambassador to Moscow in 1941 when Hitler invaded Russia, he played a crucial part in bringing the Soviet Union into the war on the allied side, for which he received much acclaim. Churchill invited him to be a member of the coalition war cabinet, making him Lord Privy Seal, Leader of the House of Commons and later Minister for Aircraft Production. He was a key player in negotiations to formulate a constitution for a united India after the British withdrawal, although those efforts were to be frustrated.
He is perhaps most famous as President of the Board of Trade (1945–7) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1947–50) in the Attlee government. His policy of stringent rationing made him a household name at a time when severe measures were needed to secure economic recovery.
His farm ‘Goodfellows’ at Filkins was his rural retreat where he lived 1920–1939. He is remembered for outstanding generosity in providing many local amenities. He built the Village Centre in Cotswold manorial style to provide a properly equipped doctor’s surgery for the first time and several bathrooms so that everyone in the village could have a weekly hot bath. The bowling green was laid out for older residents and a swimming pool created for the children. The Saxon Close council houses were partly funded by him to ensure that they preserved the architectural character of the village. The church also contains his benefactions.
Ill-health forced him to retire from politics in 1950 and he died in a Swiss sanatorium in 1952.
- Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; George Swinford, Jubilee Boy (1987)
- Pictures: Unveiling ceremony and Lady Ann Cripps (daughter-in-law of Sir Stafford Cripps) cutting the cake
The plaque was unveiled at the Village Centre, Filkins on 7 July 2007 by Sir Stafford Cripps’s daughter-in-law, Lady Ann Cripps.
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
SIR STAFFORD / CRIPPS
to this village
The Filkins Centre Trust